Rob Brunet’s debut novel Stinking Rich asks the following question: “What could possibly go wrong when backwoods bikers hire a high school dropout to tend a barn full of high-grade marijuana?”
Dubbed “deviously funny” by Canadian Mystery Reviews, the book was included in the Ottawa Citizen‘s Big Beats Best Reads of 2014, Crimespree Magazine Editor’s Top Ten 2014, and MysteryPeople‘s Top 6 2014 Debuts.
Rob’s short crime fiction appears in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Out of the Gutter, and numerous anthologies.
A creative writing instructor at George Brown College and co-host of Noir at the Bar Toronto, Rob loves the bush, beaches, and bonfires.
He shares his time between Toronto and the Kawarthas with his wife, daughter, and son.
An excerpt from Stinking Rich (Down & Out Books, 2014)
Perko Ratwick stood at the kitchen counter in the Libidos’ clubhouse and cracked two eggs into a mug of beer. He splashed in some Tabasco sauce and drank the mixture in one long gulp.
“Can’t see why you wants to use them Nasty Nancies for protection, Perk,” said Mongoose. He reached over Perko’s head to pull a jar of marmalade off the shelf. Even at ten o’clock on a hot August morning, both men wore heavy black leather jackets with identical patches embroidered on the back. The patches said “Libidos” in ornate lettering, under which was embroidery that looked like a penis riding a chopper, a testicle on either side of the fork. The hairs in particular looked realistic.
“The gang’s name is Nancy’s Nasties, Mongoose. And you know the drill as well as I do: I use Libidos muscle, this becomes a hometown operation. I have to give up half my twenty percent. This is my gig, my sale, my points, and my call. And I say, back off.”
Besides, thought Perko, he wasn’t about to have Marty “Mongoose” Muldoon or any other fellow gang member steal the show when the deal went down. He’d put in nearly fifteen years trying to make Road Captain, and nobody but nobody was going to ruin his big moment.
“Alls I’m saying, Perks, is those pussies from Nancy’s crew won’t have your back the way we does. What kind of heavies got names like Bernard and Frederick, anyways?” He slathered marmalade on half a chocolate muffin and tucked it in his mouth with two fingers.
“I could care less what their names are, Mongoose. They’re only charging me five hundred bucks each for the night.”
“You best be hoping they’s worth more than what they’s charging you is alls I can say.” The chocolate crumbs that didn’t spray into Perko’s face got caught up in Mongoose’s three-day beard. “And what about the farmer? You think some punk ass kid’s gonna keep his mouth shut if ever the cops get at him?”
“The cops can grill him all they want, far as I care,” Perko answered, wiping his face and taking half a step backward. “He’s never met anyone but Frederick, and only once at that. I give him all my instructions over the phone and I use a voice distorter when I do it. The shithead doesn’t know a thing except he has to get the hell off the property when I drop off his weekly pay packet.”
Mongoose scratched his red-orange stubble and smelled his fingertips. His nose wrinkled. He licked off a few crumbs and wiped his hand on Perko’s shoulder. “I hope you’s right for your own sake. You screw this up and you’ll be wishing you wore a picture of your granny on your back.” Mongoose turned and tramped out of the kitchen.
Perko’s stomach roiled. He raised his arm to shoulder height, about to give Mongoose a cheap shot face mash into the door jamb. At the last second, he dropped his hand to his side, fingers limp.
It wasn’t so much Mongoose’s put-down that made his skin crawl; it was his implied threat. Everyone knew gang promotion worked in one direction only. If you were kicked out of the Libidos, you knew too much to be demoted to a lower tier gang. When you lost your patch, you lost your jacket, your face, your teeth, your hands, and your balls along with it.
Sitting in his rent-free trailer at Rice Lake, Terry Miner popped a Coors Light and poured it onto a bowl of Cheerios. The door squeaked open and banged shut behind a squat man decked out in a dirty undershirt and red sweatpants.
“C’mon in, why don’t ya? Grab a seat,” Terry said pushing a folding chair toward his visitor with his bare foot.
“Didn’t mean to interrupt your breakfast. Want me to come back?” Chest hair spilled out of every opening of the man’s undershirt.
“Naw, not a problem, pal. What can I do you for?”
“I hear you got some wicked weed for sale. Figured I’d check it out. No need to head into town if my neighbor’s in the biz, if you know what I mean.”
“Sure. What do you need? A quarter?”
“That sounds about right.”
Terry stuck his hand between the cushions of the bench beside him and pulled out a twist of plastic wrap no bigger than his little finger. He flipped it across the table. His guest fished a handful of fives and tens from somewhere inside the sweatpants and laid the crumpled bills in front of Terry’s bowl of cereal. “Thanks, man,” the guy said, and shuffled out.
Terry drew a deep breath, puffed out his chest, and grinned as the door banged shut behind his latest customer. Word had gotten around the trailer park pretty quick that he had amazing skunk weed for sale. For two days now, there had been a steady stream of familiar-looking total strangers at his door. He had the cash to buy beer and smokes and had even gotten laid by the lady down the lane who’d sent her husband packing for being “a good-for-nothing sponge.”
Not since his aborted college ball career had he enjoyed this much fame, but his sense of entitlement was deeply engrained. He was much better cut out for this drug dealing thing.